I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


It has become a regular as clockwork part of the evening news. The Jeremy Corbyn piece. The 'Corbynmania' piece.  Public halls that have been echoing and empty for years suddenly jam packed. Extra chairs dug from dusty store rooms. Standing room only. People actually locked outside. People arriving three hours early to make sure of a seat.
And young people.
Lots and lots of young people with their faces full of unexpected hope.
For those of us who fought on the side of ‘YES’ last summer it all has a very familiar look about it. Remember how it was this time a year ago? The clock was ticking down to September 18th and the fever pitch mood of the final weeks was gathering momentum.
The battle lines also have the look of something very familiar.
On the one hand there are meeting halls filled with hundreds and hundreds of people drawn like moths to the flame of hope. Of something different. Of something fairer. Of something better.
On the other had are the giant grey walls of the establishment. 
Cold. Ugly. Dismissive. Arrogant. Lying. Condescending. Smug. Hideous.
The torrent of derision and abuse being poured over the Corbyn campaign is much the same as the derision and abuse we had thrown at us twelve months ago.

But something has changed.
A year ago it seemed like the vast grey armies of the Establishment would always prevail. On September 19th it certainly felt that way as the streets emptied of all hope and the evening news was given over to a crowd of fascist morons and their Nazi salutes in George Square.
My how the vintage port must have flowed in all those London clubs. The great unwashed had been duly conned out of their chance of something better. All those telephone calls from murky call centres had hit the mark.
You’ll lose your pension… you’ll lose your pension…. you’ll lose your pension…..
Drip, drip, drip……
Lie, lie, lie…….
Vow, vow, vow……
And that was supposed to have been that.
You’ve all had your chance. Your once in a generation chance. And you’ve blown it. We lied. And you bought the lies.
Because you’re stupid.
And we won.
Because we always win.
And now you can go back into your box.
And stay there.
But it didn’t work out that way. Not even close.
People refused to go back into the box and as their nasty, grubby lies were exposed one by one, the people of Scotland found a way to project our power.
And on May 7th we delivered our hammer blow.
On May 7th the Labour Party and the Lib Dems discovered the real meaning of Better Together. They suffered the kind of fate that the Romanian and Italian soldiers met at the battle of Stalingrad. They paid a heavy price for teaming up with the dark side.
They learnt what the word obliteration means.
And for four months the Tories and the Establishment had been smug as bugs in their rugs. The super rich have slept like babies in their vast beds.
And they are now completely convinced that things are just getting better and better as Jeremy Corbyn has moved from being a no hoper to a near shoe in.
Because nobody will vote for such an 80’s loser, right? He represents an enemy that the Establishment took on and destroyed thirty years ago when their cavalry stoved in the heads of the fleeing miners on the battlefield of Orgreave.
So let the gullible young fill the meeting halls of England to listen to the out dated words of Tony Benn. Let the deluded young indulge themselves in some misguided hope. Where is the harm? There is no harm. They are nothing. Pitiful.
And my how the good and the great of the Labour Party are closing ranks. Just listen to the desperation in their voices as they see their seats at the Establishment high table about to be taken away from them. They are terrorised by the prospect of becoming the next set of victims and going the same way as Murphy and Balls and Clegg and Alexander.
And Alexander.
Membership cancelled. Desk cleared. Access codes cancelled. Keycard reclaimed. No more invitations to the black ties dinners where the super rich write out the fat cheques and bestow the six figure non exec directorships.
On the wrong side of the wall.
In the cold.
Blair and his disciples are becoming frantically shrill in their warnings of mayhem and Armageddon and wipeout.
But here’s the thing.
None of it is working. Not any more. It doesn’t matter if it is Tony Blair or Alistair Campbell of the Murdoch Press. They all promise an electoral nemesis in 2020 if a man like Jeremy Leon Trotsky Corbyn should ever be put in a position to genuinely threaten the thousand or so people who call all of the shots.
So why oh why are the hundreds who fill the meeting halls not listening to such wise and trusted Establishment words? And why are the thousands and thousands who are about to succumb to Corbynmania not listening? Why do they not get it! Why can’t they see that nobody will vote for this kind of pipe dream 1980’s socialist drivel!
Go on!
Answer the bloody question you impudent deluded idiots.
And you know how all the people in the meeting halls are answering the question? They are answering the question with a single word.
Look at Scotland.
They HAVE free university education in Scotland.
They HAVE a publicly owned NHS in Scotland.
They HAVE a government who has promised to get rid of nuclear weapons in Scotland.
They HAVE a government who is nice about immigrants in Scotland.
They HAVE a government who condemns fighting illegal wars for the interests of corporations in Scotland.
They HAVE  a government who wants to play a positive role in Europe and the world in Scotland.
And you know what? These were all the things their manifesto promised in the run up to the election in May.
And you know what? They won by a landslide.
And you know what? You can stick your lies and bullshit where the sun don’t shine because people in England are no different from people in Scotland.
And if the Scots can do it, then we can do it to.
In the desperate years of hunger and disease after the end of the Second World War, America was the shining city on the hill for the starving millions of Europe. A place of plenty. Coca Cola and Gary Cooper and Levi jeans and shelves filled to bursting point with non rationed food. The land of the men in white hats who had sailed across the ocean to rid the world of Nazism.
Holywood brought the American Dream to the hungry and the cold.
And the hungry and the cold wanted their countries to be like that shining city on the hill.
America had the chance to guide the world into a better future. But America blew it. And now the world has become an increasingly dismal place and hundreds and hundreds of millions of people are becoming sick to the stomach with it.
It is becoming clear with every passing day that the status quo cannot last for much longer. People are arriving at a tipping point. People are arriving at a point in time where they will no longer be willing to put up with 1000 people owning well over half of the whole world. People are arriving at a time where they won’t wear the gilded thousand having $24 trillion stashed away in their off shore accounts in Grand Cayman and Luxembourg and …
Oh yes.
And the City of London.
All over Europe dark forces are coming up with dark answers to address the growing rage of the masses. And most of the time it isn’t pretty because most of the time the answers are the very same answers that Hitler and Mussolini came up with eighty years ago after the last great financial crash.
All over Europe people with the wrong coloured skin are being beaten and blamed. Even the once tolerant Scandinavians seem to be succumbing to the siren voices of the far right.
Greece tried to make a fight of it, but it seems that Greece has been smashed back to the ground.
Which leaves just one shining city on the hill for all of the millions of people whose lives just seem to get a little bit worse with every passing year.
The place where hope is the winning ticket. The place where simple words of decency and hope precipitated a democratic landslide.
A democratic revolution where not one single person was beaten to a pulp.
Whether we like it or not, we have become the role model for those who dream of achieving something better by using the power of hope not hate.
We are the antidote to the fast spreading virus of Putin and le Pen.
What we have managed to achieve over the last year or so has offered inspiration. That’s why when the Manchester Evening news asked its readers if they would like their city to become a part of Scotland over 70% said yes they would actually.
Just like 70% of Europeans would have dreamed of being Americans in 1946.
So we are the new shining city on the hill.
Hope is the asylum seeker and we have given hope a sanctuary.
It is very important that we are fully aware of the fact that the world is watching us. And admiring us. And wanting to be like us.
A place of decency and tolerance and hope where the vicious voices of those who hate are barely heard.
When I grew up I had a free university education and a grant. When I got ill, I was treated in an NHS that had no place for the private sector. When I travelled I could afford to use the train. When I was cold I could afford to switch the heating up.
These are not lunatic ideas that will destroy the fabric of our lives. Instead they are ideas that will hit the super rich hard.
No wonder they are fighting so hard to squash hope before it gets out of hand.
Well maybe this time they will not be so successful. Because when Tony Blair says vote Corbyn and get a guaranteed electoral wipeout, the hundreds in the meeting halls respond with a very simple question of their own.
What about Scotland then?
How come these barking mad ideas delivered 56 MPs out of 59?
Answer that one.
And right now nobody has an answer. And because they have no answer, more and more people turn up to every meeting.
Because all of those people have a shining city on the hill to inspire them.
I just hope that we do better than America did. Our small country has punched above its weight for hundreds of years.
We have given the world a lot.
Maybe now we can play our greatest role by providing a permanent safe place for decency and fairness and hope.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog I reckon you'll also enjoy my new book, 'The Great Foodbank Siege'. It costs £3. All proceeds go to keeping the First base Foodbank alive. And you can find it by clicking the link below.


  1. Wow. That was a powerful piece... I wish that I had written it.

  2. Great blog, Mark. One of your best. I think that you are absolutely right. In Scotland we have so much going for us. We have the possibility of creating a society that demonstrates how people can live respectfully with each other, and with nature. Many of the other places that are trying to live in a different way, such as Greece, are battling against much bigger odds.

  3. brilliant...and I hope we stick to it

  4. There are millions of people, in the rUK, that didn't vote. Mainly because they had no one to vote for. Tory, Tory-lite in the guise of "New Labour" and Tory poodles in the Lib-Dems.
    I would argue that, the non-voting millions are to the left of the political spectrum and would vote for a Corbyn lead Labour party.

    Finished "The Great Foodbank Siege", last night, a fantastic read, I will write a review later on Amazon, I've put a link to it on " Wings", hopefully a few others will be moved to purchase and enjoy; as well as helping the foodbank.

  5. yes, straight from the heart. Love it.

  6. Absolutely breathtaking! AND Absolutely true. Every word!